Broward Schools Set New Rules on Medical Marijuana

At first glance, Arianna looks like any other six-year-old, but she's been living with a very rare brain tumor since she was a toddler.

"It's devastating," said Michele Riquelme, her mother.

Doctors gave Arianna two years to live.

"I don't know how long I have her for, so I want to grab her, and not let her go," she said.

It's been three years since the devastating diagnosis. Her tumor hasn't shrunk or grown, but Riquelme says her daughter is feeling better after turning to medical marijuana.

"From the first drop, everything changed," she said.

She gives her cannabis oil drops three times a day.

Arianna is starting first grade later this month at Margate Elementary. Her mother was concerned about how and even if her daughter would be able to get her medicine until Broward County schools passed new rules Tuesday.

The new policy would allow students who are registered patients to receive medical marijuana in school. The school principal is responsible for assigning a location to administer the medication.

"No one is allowed to administer it except for me, none of the nurses are allowed to touch it," Riquelme said.

Even though medical marijuana has been legal in Florida for more than a year, some school districts have been slow to develop a policy.

"At least Broward put something in place," Riquelme said. "I know my child is not the only one."

Under state law, each school board shall adopt a policy to ensure access to the medication. However, many schools are worried about losing federal funds because medical marijuana is illegal on the federal level. 

Miami-Dade, the largest school system in the state, doesn't have a policy in place. They treat each request on a case-by-case basis.

In an email, spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego said the district is not ignoring the law, rather continuing to review "the law and its implications to formulate an appropriate policy response." 

She said that they want more input from the state but the Department of Education told us they haven't issued any guidance.

For Michele, it's been another thing to worry about as she transitions her daughter to a normal schedule and routine.

"What matters to me is that she lives, and if this can help her live and not suffer, while she's going through all this treatment, then I'll have to do it."

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